This year, we have given $125,708 to our community partners dedicated to providing healthy meals to those families who need it most. In our first 6 months, we provided healthy meals to 8,109 individuals, including 2065 children. But those numbers don't tell the whole story. We are no longer just funding food pantries, but food programs that go beyond the bare minimum. We're giving school-aged children healthy snacks they can bring to school, like juice boxes and applesauce, so they fit in with their peers. We're providing hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant to those who would otherwise have to do without. We are guaranteeing that these individuals, families, and children are prepared to go to school, go to work, and to continue to function with dignity.
The United Way of Tri-County is dedicated to providing our children with a 21st century education. This goal can not be met in the classroom alone.That's why we give the most money- $445,000 this year- to ensure that the children in our community have the most support possible to be successful in life. To put that in perspective, this year we have given 9,016 local youth a safe, educational, and affordable place to go after school. We support programs that provide children with the time, resources, and mentorship to succeed in school. With our support, kids get the quiet space, one-on-one help, and goal setting skills they need to finish their homework and be prepared for school the next day. We're focused on each individual child, ensuring that he or she is equipped to learn.
With the economy in a downturn, it is more important than ever that we find ways to support those who are committed to stabilizing their lives and providing for themselves and their families. That's why we've dedicated $57,939 to establish the framework that guides clients from unemployment to sustained income. So far, 179 clients have taken advantage of this service, and we're only growing. But we don't just want to fix a short term problem, we're focused on long term solutions. By focusing on achieving and maintaining economic stability, we are able to provide wraparound services to those who are determined to find employment. We're giving them resume building skills, providing classes on workplace standards, and following up with those clients who have been placed in jobs. From what to wear to work, to computer and math skills, to long term guidance- by staying with our clients from the day they step in the door until they are secure with employment, we are taking that extra step to ensure their long term success.
We're taking a proactive approach to health at the United Way of Tri-County. We've dedicated $95,412 to ensuring that our young people are prepared to make healthy decisions and lead well-rounded lives. In the past 6 months, we've enrolled 180 youth in a program that does just that. This direct service of the UWTC focuses on their strength and future, rather than solely react to crises. We are promoting healthy adolescent behaviors, reducing teen pregnancies, and helping our youth develop strategies for a successful life.
United Way of Tri-County Powerful Tools for Caregivers
Baypath Elders, Inc.
- 7 caregivers enrolled
- 18 group leaders trained
- 18 licenses dispersed
Marika has been the primary caregiver for her mother for several years. Her mother is in her 90’s, and lives about an hour from Marika. Marika learned about Powerful Tools for Caregivers, a program of the United Way of Tri-County, from a Caregiver Support Specialist. At that time, she was physically and mentally exhausted from being responsible for her mother’s care and happiness at the expense of her own health. Marika was emotionally stressed, and having difficulty making decisions and managing her time.
Marika became an active participant in the first Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program, and found it to be extremely helpful in providing strategies for self-care: “The program has helped me take stock of my situation more realistically. I have given myself permission to take care of myself, which I believe is key. I have come to realize that what I do is enough. The other benefit was hearing about the other resources from the participants. They all offered so much to the group. Thank you for teaching us the tools which will stay with us through our lives.”
Thanks to the United Way of Tri-County and the Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program, Marika was able to make changes in her life to benefit the health and happiness of herself and her mother.
United Way of Tri-County Power Hour Homework Club
Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley
69 youth enrolled in Power Hour
When Kayla first started attending the Power Hour Homework Club, a program of the United Way of Tri-County, she wasn’t too excited about the idea. She would refuse, often coming up with different excuses, saying she had no homework or had already completed it at school. Getting the support of her grandparents, who had their own struggles raising a young child, proved to be yet another challenge for the family.
But when the Power Hour staff got a phone call from her middle school principal saying that Kayla was supposed to be attending the school’s homework club in order to keep up with her assignments, they knew they had to take action. Kayla needed to take advantage of homework help so that she wouldn’t be held back a grade. That’s when program staff and the school principal joined forces to get Kayla’s parents and grandparents involved before it was too late. It was decided that, in order for Kayla to take part in afterschool activities, she must present the Power Hour staff with a note from her school saying she had worked on her homework. This note would also list what assignments she needed to complete, so that she could finish them at the UWTC Power Hour Homework Club. They also developed an incentive that decided she would have to wait to continue her computer privileges until after she had finished all her incomplete or missing assignments.
Kayla agreed to all the plans and has since made dramatic improvements, going from a below average student to one determined to making the honor roll. She is thankful that she has so many caring adults that want to see her succeed and excel in school. Thanks to the United Way of Tri-County and the Power Hour Club, Kayla has the tools she needs to be a success in school.
United Way of Tri-County Disaster Relief Program
American Red Cross
9 families assisted
37 individuals assisted
37 assisted with food and clothing
22 given emergency shelter
November 11, 2010 is a day that changed the lives of a family of four living in Milford. Their home of 6 years was destroyed when fire broke out in the vacant apartment above theirs. With nothing left of their own, the family was suddenly forced to look for a place to call home. Adding to the challenges of trying to relocate, they needed to find a location that was on the same transportation route that their 14 year old autistic child used to get to school. This easily could have been an insurmountable obstacle without the help of the United Way of Tri-County Disaster Relief Program.
As part of the United Way of Tri-County Disaster Relief Program, caseworkers were able to provide funds for food, clothing, and emergency shelter right on the scene. They offered consolation at a time when things could have felt hopeless. Over the next few days, they provided follow-up services to include referrals for apartments available within the same section of town and mental health counseling for the family that had been through such a tragedy.
In addition, as part of the routine follow-up service of the Disaster Relief Program, interviews were conducted two weeks later and allowed for the clients’ need for new bedding to be fulfilled as well.
Today, they are happily living in their new apartment, all together, on the same bus route, thanks to the United Way of Tri-County, and the funding they provide to assist our neighbors in need.
United Way of Tri-County Career Development Training
- 85 students enrolled ages 14 and 15 from Hudson High School
- 10 interviews and resumes collected, with an additional 9 interviews in the weeks to come.
Growing up in a family with two working parents, Evan sometimes needed some additional guidance. As a child he depended on teenage mentors to provide the safe afterschool experience that helped him to excel in and out of the classroom.
Now, at the age of fourteen, Evan is the role model and mentor through the United Way of Tri-County’s Career Development and Training program. Four days a week he rides his bike to and from mentoring, regardless of the weather. Evan remembers the impact his mentor made on him and enjoys helping the younger students with their activities and schoolwork. He knows how important the program is, but admits that the mentees are not the only ones benefitting: “There isn’t a lot for me to do after school where I can feel as appreciated as I do when I’m working with these students.”
Evan understands two-fold benefit of the United Way’s Career Development and Training Program. This program prevents youth from slipping through the cracks and transforms young adults, like Evan, into leaders. At only fourteen he is organized, determined and persistent. Evan’s mother Cheryl believes this experience has helped him develop important skills that will prepare him for higher education and entering the workforce. Evan is gaining an edge, but just as significant Cheryl says “the mentor program empowers Evan, making him feel important.” By providing these skills and confidence the United Way of Tri-County’s Career Development and Training program has prepared Evan for success.
United Way of Tri-County Domestic Violence Project
MetroWest Legal Services
The Domestic Violence Project, a program of the United Way of Tri-County, provides victims of domestic violence with legal assistance to protect their safety, their children's safety, their income and asset needs, and access to health care benefits.
Since July 2010, the Domestic Violence Project has seen 118 cases in the United Way of Tri-County catchment area and has closed 30 cases, making an immeasurable difference in the lives of victims who seek safety and a new beginning for themselves and their children.
When Katrina met Alberto, he already had a history of violence and anger. That’s when the abuse began. They married three years later, and children soon followed. Throughout their marriage Alberto found different ways to torment his wife and their two daughters, from preventing Katrina from seeing her family and attending school, to acts of violence. Sadly, the abuse touched every member of the family.
Eventually Katrina found the courage to leave Alberto and agreed to allow him to see his two young daughters. On one of these visits, she received a phone call from her children tearfully describing how Alberto had been abusive to them in her absence. Katrina immediately contacted the police who assisted her in reuniting with her children and criminally charged Alberto for his behavior toward his daughters.
Katrina’s next phone call was to the Domestic Violence Project, a program of the United Way of Tri-County.
With that phone call an attorney represented Katrina in the Probate and Family Court and successfully argued that Katrina and the children were eligible for a restraining order against Alberto, that she should have sole custody, and that her address should be kept confidential. Later, the Domestic Violence Project assisted Katrina in obtaining a divorce and in obtaining a permanent restraining order against her ex-husband.
Today, thanks to the United Way of Tri-County, Katrina is living safely with her children in a location unknown to Alberto and, though she is still fearful of her ex-husband, feels great relief to be permanently separated from him both legally and physically. Now she can truly begin to start her life, knowing she’ll have the community working toward her safety and well-being.
A Caregiver begins to care for herself too…
Pam, a teacher for over 30 years, had to leave her position because of care giving demands. Pam is the primary caregiver for her husband, a 77 year-old retired physician, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over four years ago. Her life has changed dramatically. No time for the work she loves, no time for herself, drained of energy by the end of the day; she’s lost her best friend and feels tired and alone.
Recently, Pam was connected to the United Way of Tri-County Powerful Tools for Caregivers series of support workshops. She has attended two support groups offered by the program through BayPath Elder Services, one of which was geared toward caregivers of persons with dementia. Pam chose to attend the classes because she continues to struggle with managing the care of her husband, and thought educational classes would provide her with something very different from a support group.
She is already very pleased with the results. As an educator, Pam feels the class structure and materials offer effective and practical strategies. “What I like about the material is that I can easily use the strategies and tools I learn in the classroom at home with my husband. I love the group activities; they push me to a different place.”
Pam reports that the classes have enabled her to think differently about her role as a caregiver, and her outlook is already more positive. “I don’t have a lot of people that I can share those emotional things with. Being with other caregivers makes me realize I am not the only one. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut in your care giving situation. Having this opportunity helps me to grow by changing my attitude and learning how to do things differently.”
Pam is committed to attending all six classes of the United Way of Tri-County Powerful Tools for Caregivers series, and looks forward to future workshops. Pam has used the Action Plan component of the classes to take time for herself to return to satisfying activities, like Tai Chi, that she had participated in before her husband’s diagnosis. The classes have been the catalyst for Pam’s change.
A family finds hope through the years…
A single Mom with two young children, Kathy came to Clinton from Rhode Island driving a truck filled with all of her family’s possessions. Promised a good job and a new home, she was full of hope and excited about this new beginning. When she arrived and saw the despicable living conditions of her new home, she was forced to stay overnight in a local motel, sleepless with worry about her next steps and the safety of her children.
The next morning, the clerk at the motel suggested that she contact WHEAT Community Services in Clinton, a program of the United Way of Tri-County, to see what assistance they could offer. “I was overwhelmed by their kindness and their ability to help me and my family. They negotiated with a local landlord and got us moved in to a great, affordable apartment. Three weeks later, I was laid off from my new job, and, again, WHEAT came through, helping us with food, rent and support as I located a new job.”
Back on their feet, Kathy and her family expressed their gratitude by volunteering at WHEAT’s United Way of Tri-County supported programs. At the “Community Café” where she and her children had shared numerous meals in their early weeks of getting resettled, they returned to serve others and to give back some of what they had been given in their days of anxiety and need. Even her nine year old son took it upon himself to help out at the Hidden Treasures Thrift Shop, where he had been provided with shoes and clothes a few months before.
This year, Kathy and her family have had more challenges to face. Laid off from her job, she turned again to the United Way of Tri-County and WHEAT to receive assistance with rent, utilities, clothing, and food. With this support, Kathy made the decision to go back to school and will earn her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting in 2012.
“Without the United Way of Tri-County and WHEAT, I can’t imagine where my family and I would be today. Knowing how I have been blessed by the kindness of others has made me want to keep giving back to the community that has helped me so much. When you find kindness, you aren’t as afraid to ask for help. United Way and WHEAT gave us that, and much more. My plan for the future is to find a way to work with other people, especially kids in tough circumstances, to tell them my story and to share my hope with them as well”.
A boy makes the numbers work…
When the school year started Diego was very shy and had difficulty getting along with his peers. Being around a large group made Diego feel anxious and unsure, causing him to hold back and distance himself from other kids. Diego is an 81/2 year old little boy who can’t wait to reach 10 so he can be in the double digits.
He struggled with his homework, having an especially difficult time with math. Every night he began his homework and after only ten minutes got frustrated and gave up. At the beginning of the school year, Diego sat by himself to try to complete his work since his parents did not return home from work until bedtime. His teachers took notice of poor grades and lack of focus in math class. They suggested he enroll in the program funded by the United Way of Tri-County, JFS All Stars, an academic after-school program.
Finding his way in a group of students and having to face his dreaded math homework, was at first a challenge for Diego. After a few weeks of meeting after school with dedicated volunteer mentors and staff, Diego soon realized he was not alone. Together, Diego and his mentor Joan worked through his math homework. Joan patiently assured Diego that he could figure it out, walking him though the steps, explaining the problem in a way that Diego was able to understand. As time went by Diego realized that Joan was right - he could actually be good at math!
His success afterschool in a dedicated enrichment program began to have a positive impact in the rest of his school day. Diego started to enjoy playing word and math games with other students. He became more confident, asked questions, participated in special events, and played soccer with kids at recess.
With his new skills and a new found self-confidence, Diego no longer shies away from learning and socializing, but instead, walks into the United Way of Tri-County JFS All Stars with a huge grin, eyes wide, and an excitement to see what else he could accomplish that day.
A family saved from becoming homeless…
Maria, a 41 year old single mother of four children, has been described by those who know her as a selfless woman who constantly puts the needs of other before her own. Like many moms, Maria’s children are her life and she desperately wants to give them everything they need to thrive and be happy. As an employee of a Metro West public school system, education is a priority to her and she hopes to do more for her children than merely provide for their basic needs; she wants to see them all earn a college degree someday.
Until she discovered “Every Family Needs a Home,” a program of the United Way of Tri-County, this dream seemed unattainable. With all the stress of bills and family needs piling up, Maria found herself unable to pay her rent and was in danger of being evicted. To try to make ends meet, she was forced to stop making payments on her oldest child’s tuition at a local community college. And while her ex-husband also wants the best for the children, he has made late and incomplete payments of child support, so his help is unreliable. The entire family is working hard to improve their situation, but with such a significant lack of funds, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. To add to the family’s stress level, Maria’s father has recently been diagnosed as terminally ill and the cost of visiting him has become too much to handle.
With the help of the United Way of Tri-County and MetroWest Outreach Connection, Maria was able to make her rent payment and avoid moving her family into a shelter. More importantly, Maria was given a fighting chance to keep her children where they belong: in a loving home with a mom they can count on.